tips for learning a new language

5 Ways To Learn A Language At Home (In Preparation For Your Next Trip)

7 April 2020
Read Time: 4.3 mins

Have you always wanted to be that traveller who can converse effortlessly in the local language? Order a coffee, ask for the bill, buy a bus ticket, get directions? Well, all of this isolation time you’ve suddenly been given is the ideal opportunity to transform yourself into that person. Here are some (100% fool-proof) ways to start conversing in a new language in preparation for your one-day trip.

First up, set realistic goals

Let’s be honest, you’re not going to be able to fluently order a bento box in Japanese if you set yourself too big of a goal that you lose hope and fall off the train on day two. The key to learning a new language is consistency. If you set aside a small manageable task each day, and stick to it, you’ll be much further in three weeks than if you spend all day on it today and never pick it up again. 

tips for learning a new language

Our top tips:

  1. Break it down into small tasks, one step at a time
  2. Be consistent, do it every day. Setting aside some time in your calendar is a great way to stick to this
  3. Set yourself a goal - like reading a magazine article in the new language
  4. Get friend or family on board - just like exercise it’s easier when you’re in it together
  5. Focus on structure, not vocabulary. “The dog is brown” was one of the first things I learned in French, and I’ve never used it… but learning phrases like “This is my croissant, it is your croissant, it is his croissant” will be much more useful in everyday conversations. 

tips for learning a new language - read a foreign magazine

Duolingo

There’s no doubt you’ve heard of it, but have you tried it? It’s a language app and to be honest, gets a little addictive once you get started. There are simple tasks that teach you the meanings of words, pronunciation lessons, and games to play. If you’ve got a single competitive bone in your body, you’ll want to speed through to get to the next level. It also features daily tasks that you need to  complete to keep your learning regular, which really pays off and, with all this time on your hands you’ll be a pro before you know it!

tips for learning a new language

Watch Foreign Films And TV Series

This is a great activity to compliment your Duolingo lessons. You’re exposing yourself to the language, learning a bit about the culture and, enjoying a relaxing movie at the same time! Plus, in big news, Netflix even has a language learning tool that allows you to view subtitles in both the original language and English, pausing automatically to allow you to absorb the language in certain places. You can find our list of travel films to watch - many of which are foreign here

tips for learning a new language - try a podcast

Podcasts

A great podcast to keep up your skills (when used frequently) is called News in slow French. There are different skill levels, so once you’ve got some basics downpat you can start on the beginner one, then work your way up. This podcast does grammar drills, sayings, and you get to hear the week’s news in slow, digestible French. There are News in slow… podcasts in Spanish, German, Finnish, Japanese, Romanian, Arabic, Portuguese… the list goes on! 

Coffee Break is another podcast that gives a language lesson that feels more like a coffee date, covering cultural knowledge and basic language skills.

tips for learning a new language

Translate your life

Say what? Well, you can change the language on many things you use day to day - such as your phone or your computer. You can label items in your house in the language you’re trying to learn, and even start speaking to your pet in the new language. (I only ever spoke to my cat in French during university, and now, I speak to my dog in Spanish.)  

tips for learning a new language

Start An Online Course

There’s no better way to learn than with a native, right? There are a heap of sites that run online courses, but if you’re more into face to face learning, there are websites like italki.com where you can link up with a native language teacher over a Skype, Facetime or Zoom call.   


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Vicki Fletcher

A writer and photographer for Flight Centre, Vicki loves road trips down unknown tracks, hiking into mountain ranges, following locals to the best food in town, and spending long afternoons people watching in city squares. She's written for publications across Australia and Europe. Top travel tip: always look up. Follow Vicki on Instagram @vickijanefletcher.